Al Salam Bank and China's MSA Capital launch $50m regional venture fund

SOURCE: The National


Chinese venture fund with $1bn of assets under management received investment from Bahrain's Al Waha Fund of Funds last month

Al Salam Bank-Bahrain has partnered with China's MSA Capital to launch a new, $50 million (Dh183.6m) venture capital fund which will introduce new Chinese technologies and business models to the Middle East.

The Al Salam-MSA Bahrain Fund I, better known as MEC Ventures, will use MSA's expertise gained through its Chinese portfolio in industries such as healthcare big data, electric vehicles, food delivery and ride-hailing, and introduce some of the practices developed at these companies into local entities run by experienced entrepreneurs, the lender said.

“Al Salam Bank-Bahrain is uniquely positioned to provide regional access to capital and investment opportunities in the ever-growing Mena market complementing MSA’s deep industry expertise," said the bank's group chief executive, Rafik Nayed.

"MEC Ventures will be an active participant in the regional venture capital landscape which only stands to grow by leveraging on cutting edge China-based technologies and expertise.”

Al Salam Bank is an Islamic lender with assets of about 1.9 billion Bahraini dinars (Dh18.6bn) as of September 30. The bank, which has retail, corporate and private banking arms, increased profit to shareholders by 19 per cent in the three months to September to 4.9m dinars, as total operating income rose 25 per cent to 12.7 million dinars.

MSA Capital is a Chinese venture capital fund with more than $1bn of assets under management, according to its website. Last month, Al Waha Fund of Funds, an investment vehicle into venture capital owned by the Bahrain government's sovereign fund, Mumtalakat, announced it would invest into a $250m fund by MSA Capital, which claims to have made 10 investments into the Middle East already.

"We believe that the Mena region is nearing an inflection point that can be accelerated through the adoption of Chinese-inspired mobile-first business models. We are proud to partner with Al Salam Bank-Bahrain to establish MEC Ventures, and see Bahrain as a hyper-efficient, user-friendly gateway to the MENA region," said MSA Capital's managing partner Ben Harburg.